Multiple problems with subscription

Nicola Anderson made numerous “fruitless and costly calls” to Multichoice to try to get her DStv reconnected as it had been repeatedly terminated, even though she had paid for it a year in advance.

The Newlands woman said she subscribed to a Compact bouquet for her frail mother, 91, who lives in a nursing home and “it is her only company”.

“Despite having paid in advance for a full 12-month period, Multichoice repeatedly terminated the service due to so-called ‘non-payment’. However, according to the call centre agents and debtor staff, it is a system error which occurred as a result of a change in their accounting system. Which means that subscribers like me who pay annually in advance are mistakenly moved to ‘monthly’ subscribers’ accounts.

“As the cost for annual prepaid accounts is lower than the monthly subscription, this system change has affected annual subscribers’ bills as their fees now reflect as monthly: the fees are calculated at the monthly rate instead of at the prepaid annual rate. So the prepaid amount no longer covers the 12-month period, resulting in so-called outstanding payments in the last quarter of the subscription period and requests to pay the so-called arrears,” Ms Anderson said.

So the system ends the service earlier than it should. Annual subscriptions are calculated and fixed at the current monthly rate; you pay for 11 months in advance but get 12 months service.

“The change in the accounting system affects all annual subscribers who have been moved to monthly billing which does not reflect the lower annual fee rate.Customers were not informed of this change and they only become aware of it when they get an SMS from Multichoice about outstanding payments, based on the monthly rate. Agents say the problem can only be fixed when customers phone in querying their bills and the complaints are sent to the business desk, which is apparently responsible for correcting the system error,” said Ms Anderson, who added she made eight calls each lasting half an hour, which she has to pay for, to try to sort out their error.

“Despite the call centre agents assuring me they have escalated the problem, customers can’t speak to the business desk, which is the only department who can rectify the problem, and we can’t get further than the call centre agents,” Ms Anderson said.

She told me she emailed proof of payment without getting any response. “Meanwhile, my DStv has been terminated and my mother has nothing to do all day and has no stimulation.

“Apart from the considerable cost of the telephone calls, I have not had the service I paid for. Some agents have reconnected the service when I have called, but it is soon disconnected again – each time incurring disconnection and reinstatement fees. I am among many annual subscribers affected by Multichoice’s My system change.

“Multichoice advertises that customer care is important to them and for years many subscribers have complained about the useless accounts department. Why is the managing director not doing anything to sort out their billing department and provide the service customers deserve?

“If I hadn’t subscribed to the service for my mother, I would cancel it and Multichoice would lose me as a customer. Please help,” Ms Anderson said.

Multichoice said they contacted Ms Anderson and apologised for the “less than ideal service. Her query should have been resolved at the first point of contact”.

Perhaps the managing director could pose as a mystery shopper to test his call centre.

“We can report that this issue has been resolved, and Ms Anderson is happy with the outcome. She has two subscriptions with us – DStv Extra and Compact. It seems when she added the DStv Compact subscription, both her accounts reverted to monthly payments instead of annual payments. The DStv Extra subscription was corrected to an annual payment in March 2016, but the Compact subscription was not corrected.

“We’ve made the necessary updates to ensure Ms Anderson gets billed on an annual basis for both of her subscriptions. We’ve also reversed the overdue amount on her bill. We’d like to assure our customers that this is an isolated incident that most of our annual paying customers don’t experience,” said Multichoice.

Ms Anderson said her mother’s nursing home is not nearby and she will have to make a special trip to reset the decoder and check that the service is running.

“I will have to keep tabs on it before I can consider the matter resolved. Given Multichoice’s assurances in the past, it is best that I keep checking if the service has been permanently restored. I will let you know. Meanwhile, thank you for your involvement,” Ms Anderson said.

If you experience any problems with Multichoice’s billing or DStv service email; on your phone: type in *120*MULTI# (68584) on your cellphone and hit “dial” and on the internet log on to My DStv on where you’ll be able to review your billing details, reset error codes, make payments and check your balance.